Jesus approaches the bed slowly.
He kindly wipes the perspiration on the face of the woman, who finds difficulty in doing so because her hands are incredibly swollen, and He fans her head with a fan made with palm leaves.
394. Jesus goes, all alone, as far as the wide-open door of the house, which He enters greeting with His kind salutation.
A woman comes towards Him: «What do You want? Who are You?»
«I have come to bring relief to your mistress. Take Me to her.»
«Are You a doctor? It is of no avail! There is no hope. Her heart is dying.»
«There is still her soul to be saved. I am the Rabbi.»
«You are of no use even as such. She is displeased with the Eternal Father and does not want to listen to sermons. Leave her alone.»
«I have come just because she is in that frame of mind. Let me go in and she will not be so unhappy in her last days.»
The woman shrugs her shoulders and says: «Come in!»
There is a cool half-dark corridor with several doors. At the end of the corridor the last door is half-open and moaning can be heard from it. The woman enters the room saying: «My mistress, there is a rabbi who wants to speak to you.»
«Why?… To tell me that I am cursed? That I will have no peace not even in the next life?» says the sick woman panting and upset.
«No. To tell you that your peace will be complete, if you only wish so, and you will be happy forever with your Johanna» says Jesus appearing at the door.
The sick woman, whose face is yellow and swollen, and who is panting in her little bed, leaning on many pillows, looks at Him and says: «Oh! What words! It is the first time that a rabbi does not reproach me… What hope!… My Johanna… with me… blessed… no more grief… the grief caused by a cursed man… she who gave birth to him did not avoid it… she betrayed me… after enticing me… My unhappy daughter…» she pants more and more.
«See? You are making her feel worse. I knew. Come away.»
«No. You go away. Leave me alone with her…» The woman goes out shaking her head.
Jesus approaches the bed slowly. He kindly wipes the perspiration on the face of the woman, who finds difficulty in doing so because her hands are incredibly swollen, and He fans her head with a fan made with palm leaves. He helps her to drink as she seeks some refreshment in the liquor on the night table. He seems a son near a diseased mother. He finally sits down, kindly but firmly determined to fulfill His mission.
The woman watches Him and calms down, and with an agonising smile she says: «You are handsome and kind. Who are You, Rabbi? You are as gentle as my beloved daughter was in comforting me.»
«I am Jesus of Nazareth…»
«You?!… And You have come to me?… Why?…»
«Because I love you. I have a mother, too, and in every mother I see Mine, and in the tears of mothers, I see My Mother’s…»
«Why? Does Your Mother weep? Why? Has another son of Hers died?»
«Not yet… I am Her only Son and I am still alive. But She already weeps because She knows that I must die.»
«Oh! Poor woman! How dreadful to know beforehand that a son must die. But how does She know? You are healthy. You are strong. You are good. I deluded myself until she died, and she was so ill!… How can Your Mother know that You must die?»
«Because I am the Son of man, foretold by the prophets. I am the Man of sorrows seen by Isaiah, the Messiah sung by David and described as the tortured Redeemer. I am the Saviour, the Redeemer, woman. And death, a dreadful death is awaiting Me… and My Mother will be present… and My Mother has been aware, since I was born, that Her heart will be broken by sorrow like My own… Do not weep… Through My death I will open the gates of Heaven to your Johanna…»
«Also to me! To me!…»
«Yes. In due course. But first you must learn to love and forgive. To begin to love again. To be just. And to forgive… Otherwise you will not be able to go to Heaven, with Johanna, and with Me…»
The woman weeps uncontrollably. She moans: «To love… To love when men have taught us to hate… when God has ceased to love us having no mercy on us… it is difficult… How can we love, when men have tortured us, and our friends have hurt us and God has abandoned us?…»
«No. He has not abandoned you. I am here. To make heavenly promises to you. To assure you that your grief will turn into joy, if you so wish. Listen to Me, Anne… You are weeping because the marriage was cancelled, and that has become the cause of all your grief, and because of that you say that a man is a murderer and his poor mother an accomplice. Listen, Anne. In the next few months you will realise that it was a grace from Heaven that Johanna did not get married to Judas…»
«Don’t mention his name to me!» shouts the woman.
«I am mentioning it, to tell you that you must thank the Lord and you will be thanking Him in a few months’ time…»
«I will be dead…»
«No. You will be alive and you will remember Me, and you will understand that there are sorrows greater than yours…»
… «But my daughter is dead! Judas made her die, to have a richer dowry… His mother approved…»
«No. That is not true. I can assure you, and I read hearts. Judas is My apostle but I tell you – he behaved badly and will be punished for it. But his mother is innocent. She loves you, and would like to be loved by you… Anne, you are two unhappy mothers. But you are proud of your dead child, who was innocent and pure, celebrated and honoured by the world… Mary of Simon cannot be proud of her son. His conduct is reproved by men.»
…«Lord… to love her… means to forgive her… It is very hard… I seem to be burying my daughter once again… to be killing her myself…»
«Such thoughts originate in Darkness! Do not listen to them. Listen to Me, the Light of the world. The Light of the world tells you that Johanna’s destiny has been less bitter dying a virgin than dying the widow of Judas. Believe Me, Anne. And consider that Mary of Simon is more unhappy than you are…»
The woman is pensive, she struggles, weeps and says: «But I have cursed her, both her and the fruit of her womb! I have sinned…»
«And I absolve you. And the more you love her, the more you will be absolved in Heaven.»
«But if I become her friend… I will meet Judas. Lord, I cannot do that!…»
«You will never meet him again. I will never come back to Kerioth again, neither will Judas. We have already said goodbye to the people… I want another promise! A great, holy one! You are good. You already love Me…»
«Yes, so much. I have been at peace since You came here…»
«When Mary of Simon no longer has her son and the world insults her with sneering words, you, you only, will open your heart and your house to her. Will you promise Me? In the names of God and of Johanna. She would have done that, because Mary was still the mother of the man she still loved» insists Jesus.
«… Yes!» replies the woman shedding tears.
«May God bless you, woman, and give you peace… and good health. Come let us go and meet Mary, and give her the kiss of peace»
«But Lord I cannot walk. My legs are swollen and I cannot move them. See? I am here, all dressed, but I am just a trunk…»
«You were. Come!» and Jesus stretches out His hand invitingly.
The woman, staring at Jesus’ eyes, moves her legs, she stretches them out of the little bed, lays her bare feet on the floor, stands up and walks… She seems fascinated. She is not even aware that she has already been cured… She goes out into the dim corridor, her hand still in Jesus’… She goes towards the door. She is almost there when she meets the servant seen previously, who utters a cry of joyful fear… Other servants rush there, fearing she was dying, whereas they see that their mistress, who shortly before was about to breathe her last and hated Mary of Simon, is now walking fast with her arms stretched out, after leaving Jesus’ hand, towards poor Mary, whom she calls and embraces to her heart, while they both weep…